This column explores the current condition of the EHS profession - and raises a number of troubling questions that have yet to be openly addressed within our professional ranks. The problem was summed up in a headline I saw recently saying, 'The EHS profession has skidded down the food chain.' In the jargon of marketing, the environmental profession has no identifiable brand and barrier for entry. Anyone can be appointed the organization's 'Environmental Manager.'
Can we really call EHS management a 'profession' in the same way that law, medicine, engineering, and nursing clearly are professions? We may consider ourselves genuine professionals and respect those individuals who pass muster with our list of certifying organizations. In the grand scheme of things, however, the way 'pocket protector guys' are treated within organizations reflects little acknowledgment of what it takes to do a truly professional job. There is something fundamentally wrong with the environmental profession and how it is valued - or not valued - by the public, governments, and business management.